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Israeli police injure dozens of worshipers denouncing security measures at Al-Aqsa

July 18, 2017 10:51 A.M. (Updated: July 18, 2017 5:57 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Dozens of Palestinians were injured on Monday evening when Israeli forces violently dispersed Muslim worshipers who were performing the night-time Isha prayer in the streets outside of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to express their opposition to increased Israeli security measures at the holy site following a deadly attack in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City.

Witnesses said Israeli police officers on horseback assaulted worshipers who tried to approach Lions’ Gate, one of the entrances to the Al-Aqsa compound.

The Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service told Ma'an that its paramedics had treated more than 50 people who were injured by Israeli forces at Lions’ Gate.

The Red Crescent said 16 Palestinians were hit with rubber-coated steel bullets, nine were wounded by shrapnel from stun grenades, and 25 sustained bruises after being beaten an kicked by Israeli forces.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that Israeli police forces "dispersed dozens of Muslims who intended to perform prayers in the street, posing a threat to their safety and to the safety of other road users."

She added that stones and other unspecified objects were thrown towards Israeli police officers during the altercation.

Due to Israeli forces blocking Lions’ Gate, a number of worshipers -- including officials from the Waqf, which administers Al-Aqsa, and Palestinian political representatives -- performed prayers on the street between Lions’ Gate and the Gate of Remission, also known as Bab al-Huttah, and outside of the Council Gate.

East Jerusalem has witnessed heightened tensions in the past week following the deadly attack on Friday that left three assailants and two police officers -- all Palestinian citizens of Israel -- dead in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City.

Worshipers have performed prayers at the Lions’ Gate leading to Al-Aqsa since the attack to express their rejection of heightened Israeli security procedures around the compound -- including the installation of metal detectors and security cameras at the entrances of Al-Aqsa.

Locals have also reported a number of detentions around the Old City and East Jerusalem in the wake of the attack.
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